Return of the natives

Published: Wednesday 15 September 2004

Not all tourists are made to feel welcome -- the pack of 100 elephants that crossed the Garo Hills in India's northeastern state of Meghalaya into Bangladesh will vouch for that. In fact, their fate hangs in balance even as officials on either side of the Indo-Bangladesh border mull over a solution to get them home.

According to forest officials of Bangladesh, the holidayers have caused widespread destruction to human lives as well as environment. It is even rumoured that Bangladesh is considering eliminating the animals. Authorities of northeast India have appealed to Bangladesh to desist from taking such a drastic step. "I appeal to Bangladesh's forest authorities to not harm the animals until a solution is found," said Mukul Sangma, forest minister of Meghalaya. "We must find out ways to ensure the safe return of the elephants," he said. Bangladeshi officials have assured that they will not harm the elephants but have urged India to work out steps with them to solve the problem.

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